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Reefer Madness and Other Tales from the American Underground

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  6,252 ratings  ·  436 reviews
In Reefer Madness, the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation investigates America's black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays -- pot, porn, and illegal immigrants. The underground economy is vast; it comprises perhaps 10 percent -- perhaps more -- of America's overall economy, and it's on the rise. Eric Schlosser charts thi ...more
Published May 1st 2003 by Penguin UK (first published 2003)
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Nate Nope, it discusses black market industries: undocumented workers, marijuana, and pornography.
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Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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DNF @ p.30

This book has been sitting in my room unread for years. I bought it because it's written by the same guy who wrote FAST FOOD NATION, a book I read and enjoyed as a teenager and plan on rereading soon as part of my not-so-secret-project. But before I revisited FFN, I wanted to check out this edgy-looking book about the marijuana, illegal immigrant labor, and porn industries.

I ended up really not liking this book. I struggled thr
David Sarkies
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Investigating America's Vices
19 June 2013

Written the author of Fast Food Nation, this book contains three case studies that each dealing with an area of the black market: marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry. As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy.

Basically there are lots of
Eric Schlosser, the grade-a muckraker whose widely read Fast Food Nation catapulted him to fame, returns with Reefer Madness, dedicated to nothing less than examining the underbelly of America's black market. Through three distinct essays (dealing with marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography), he examines the history, underlying economics, policy effects, and future directions of products and services that America can neither seem to abstain from nor openly embrace.

Reefer Madness is a diffic
Nov 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reefer Madness is a collection of 3 extended essays about the underground market in America for marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography. The author has focused primarily on the economic aspects of the underground. The topics themselves are quite interesting. Reading about the strict laws against marijuana use are both frightening and mind-boggling. How can consuming something as harmless as a joint warrant a harsher sentence than what is often handed out to murderers or other violent crimina ...more
Brandon T.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eric Schlosser has made a name for himself by probing behind the scenes of popular American phenomena. He became famous for Fast Food Nation, which was later turned into a film.

Schlosser's subject matter may trend towards the pop world, but his cross of investigative journalism and postmodernist sociology is both fresh and informative. It is obvious that he takes his material as seriously as any professional observer, and the reader reaps the reward of his work in the form of a much clearer unde
Jun 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read and enjoyed Fast Food Nation several years ago. This book is by the same author, Eric Schlosser.

None of the detail or commentary in this book is original, but it is put together in a compelling package and in a manor that makes you think about how some of the laws and prejudices that we have in place are that way, and it just may make you think to question that.

There is a quote in the ending narration of the book that talked about what Freedom means, and it said that if you are going to b
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The FAST FOOD NATION author takes a look at underground, but still incredibly lucrative, markets in the US. We also read about the varied ways different Presidential administrations/governments have dealt with these markets. For example, President Clinton famously joked about trying marijuana and not inhaling, but marijuana policies under his administration tended toward harsh and merciless. And President Reagan's "business first" attitude decried regulations on worker treatment and environmenta ...more
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was somewhat disappointing after the first section. The section on illegal immigration focused almost entirely on strawberry farmers. That was fine as far as it went (and I don't know that I'll ever buy strawberries again). I was expecting a more broad description of the labor "underground" - and perhaps hoping for a further exploration of the illegal labor market in house cleaning and yards. Those are the places that regular Americans most encounter illegals and I think would have been mor ...more
Oct 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Reefer madness is a look at the underground economy. Schlosser uses three aspects of the underground economy as a lens; the cultivation of marijuana, the hiring of illegal migrant workers (specifically California agriculture), and the production and distribution of pornography.

Scholosser is very much sympathetic towards the participants in these industries. He paints marijuana growers as small time farmers who are trying to make ends meet, and who are caught in the war on drugs by outsiders who
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating triptych of articles from the author of Fast Food Nation. Schlosser has an enviable way of braiding facts, meticulous research, reportage and anecdotes into a speedy, punchy read.

The three long articles comprising the meat of the text deal with migrant labour, marijuana, and pornography. Schlosser's appetite for particulars regularly up-ends received wisdom. Of the largest mail-order sex shop in America, the headquarters is 'high-tech and impressive but surreal. Dainty, white-haired
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: booksofthepast
This book proves how bloody hypocritical the American government is (as if anyone doubted it already). An in-depth look at three of the US's most productive underground industries (pornography, illegal immigrant labor, and the marijuana trade), "Reefer Madness" details the ridiculousness with which the US government approaches the processes that make up ten percent of the country's total business. Judging by sales, Americans love pot and porn, but live in a country that has law about them that a ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Like others who have read Fast Food Nation, I picked this up with great hope. Like others who have read this book, I was sorely disappointed.
It is what it is: a gussied up textbook version of marijuana, porn, and migrant labor statistics that feels as sterile as a World Book encyclopedia. I would have been completely disinterested if the book was not peppered with personal accounts. Still, in pages where these stories were absent, reading became unbearable, as if I was in high school again and b
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
(written 6-03)

This was a collection of three essays, one about marijuana law, one about immigrant strawberry pickers, and one about the porn industry. I had already read the first one, found it on the internet, and liked it. The other two were just as insightful and I agree with Schlosser on all points - that the black market is too large to be ignored, that marijuana should be decriminalized, that corporations need to be regulated and the market cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Reefer Madness, investigative journalist Eric Schlosser exposes three of America's biggest black markets--pot, porn and illegal immigrants. These shadow economies bring in billions of dollars that remain off the books. The author's research brings to light how each of these industries has experienced unbelievable growth even as the government has instituted stricter laws and harsher penalties to keep them out of society or out of our borders.

Vince Darcangelo
This review originally appeared in the BOULDER WEEKLY

Notes from the Underground Nation
Through pot, produce and peep shows, Eric Schlosser explores America’s shadow economy.

by Vince Darcangelo
- - - - - - - - - - - -

A poor Midwestern farmer serves time in Leavenworth for growing pot. Migrant farm workers from labor camps sleep in parked cars in Southern California. A comic-book salesman in Cleveland builds a pornography empire and turns the modern porn indu
Dennis Littrell
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Journalism as social criticism--or vice versa

There are three long, but very well-written essays in this book, portions of which previously appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the US News and World Report.

The first, the title essay, is on the marijuana business in the United States with a concentration on the "killer weed's" legal history, its economics and how it is cultivated today. Schlosser presents the unembellished facts along with some vivid detail about the growers, the se
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic history of marijuana and migrant farm workers. The theme of the book is the underground industries where people are paid "under the table". The 3 themes are the marijuana market, migrant farm workers, and the porn industry. Eric Schlosser has done some great research and has presented enough facts and data to make strong conclusions on these topics. The writer states his own beliefs and the end of each section but the facts are so compelling that the reader can figure it out on their o ...more
Robert Ritzinger
Reefer Madness is not so much a collective novel as much as it is a collection of three essays with a unifying theme. The unifying theme is meant to be the undermining and corruptive “black market” of marijuana, illegal immigrant workers and the porn industry. While each essay has its strengths, the theme as a whole does not really work.

The theme is weak in part because the “black market” aspects of each topic are corruptive in completely different ways. The first essay is the most effective and
Lee Ellen
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this is far better than I imagined. Don't let the name fool you - this is no apologia for sitting around and toking up. It is instead a well-researched and highly informative trio of essays about those that exist in the underbelly of American culture.
The first and eponymous essay concerns marijuana trafficking and the societal costs, the second is about migrant workers in the strawberry fields of California, and the closing essay is about the rise of the s
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well written, but overall badly done....don't bother. This follows Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, which was an excellent, well-researched piece of journalism. But this book is very disappointing.

It is supposed to investigate three illegal markets...marijuana, illegal immigrants, and pornography. The section on illegal immigration is less than 35 pages, which is pathetic and doesn't even skim the surface. (He confines his discussion to agricultural workers, leaving our all other categories of ill
although by this point, a lot of the statistics are pretty old & some stuff is surely outdated, this is still a very good introductory examination of not only the concept of the black market, but some of the ways society feels its impact. i'm not quite done yet, but there seems to be a dearth of focus on the internet in the porn section, considering that this was written in like 01 or 02...

update: okay, so he did talk more about the internet in the final chapters. the whole thing still just felt
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book on CD I listened to on the way to work - it was really fascinating... lots and lots of info on the taboo topics of the US underground trades of drugs, sex and illegal workers. I liked how the main focus was on the economic and legal impact of each of these issues and not so much on the morality surrounding it (although the laws are often impacted by that!). The author spent a lot of time on the drug trade (almost exclusively about marijuana use/sale) and way too much time on the sex ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is divided into 3 parts, the common link being black market economics, politics and social implications of weed, farm labor and porn. The porn section was by far the most interesting, covering the fascinating life of porn kind Reuben Sturman, the Godfather of American porn long before the emergence of Playboy and today's current incarnations. Incredibly well-researched, and a fascinating study of a man who started from nothing, from when "porn" barely existed up to the modern era when ...more
Michael Hildrum
I normally really like books written with views that strongly correlate to my views. However this one was just mediocre.

It is really a collection of three essays by Schlosser.

Marijuana, illegal migrant workers, and pornography are the topics.

Marijuana is the best, as it presents some sort of viewpoint about marijuana laws and punishments. Pornography is the worst, as it jumps around in time and subject from one porn guy to another, and basically just seemed like a jumbled biography of Reuben St
Jeff Flotta
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
Another well documented book from Schlosser. This one shines light on three taboos in the American culture: marijuana, pornography, and illegal labor. Who is keeping marijuana out of the marketplace and why? Where did pornography get it's start and who profits from it? Would our agriculture industry and economy collapse without illegal immigrants breaking their backs in the fields? Schlosser uncovers the answers to all of the madness in... Reefer Madness. ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dad's clinic is in the chapter about porn. ...more
Camille McCarthy
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Eric Schlosser's better-known work, "Fast Food Nation," and thought he did an excellent job on these topics as well. The book was about the black market and the "invisible" economy, and focused on three areas in particular: the pornography industry, marijuana, and undocumented workers. The downside to reading this book was that it felt dated; it was written in 2003, when marijuana was illegal throughout the entire US. Reading the marijuana part of the book reminds me how much things r ...more
Michael Gerald
This book was written in 2002, hence the data on marijuana, migrant labor, and porn seem outdated. Schlosser's other book, Fast Food Nation, is better written and provides the reader the political economy of the fast food industry. ...more
Christian Gortler
I had some idea of how bad marijuana charges have been, but not nearly to the insane degree outlined here. Like I feel bad for ever taking a hit.
If you already know, there’s a section about food and porn too (separately).
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
310 pages
© 2003 Eric Schlosser

What do pornography, marijuana, and migrant labor have in common? They're all factors in an underground economy, a vast web of cash-heavy transactions barred (or limited) by laws and social mores, but which generate substantial wealth for those willing to risk criminality. Reefer Madness contains thre seperate exposes on these subjects by the author of Fast Food Nation, followed by a conclusion
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Eric Schlosser is an award-winning American journalist and author known for investigative journalism. A number of critics have compared his work to that of Upton Sinclair.

Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York; he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, California. His father, Herbert Schlosser, a former Wall Street lawyer who turned to broadcasting later in his career, eventually became

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